Sunday, January 28, 2018

A Year in Review (Our First Year in NY)

(Packing up our home in NC)

I have neglected to write for several reasons. While we have been extremely busy, we have also endured many struggles, suffered from sadness and depression, and the freshness of the longing of our friends and family in North Carolina had been too painful to articulate. While I still miss our friends, family, home, and life of North Carolina more than I can say, I wanted to share the trials and triumphs of this first year.

Sometimes, I try to censor what I write, to be sure that I am not just grumbling and complaining. I also want to make sure that I do not turn people away from God or adoption because of the struggles we endure. However, I also think it is wrong not to share some of the challenges because it is not a full picture, so if you don’t really want to know….then you might not want to read this entry. Also, I warn you, it is EXTREMELY long (hey, I had a whole year to write about).

(Here is the last trip of all our stuff
15 passenger van, my brother's truck pulling the trailer of animals,
Brandon's buddy Brian driving the U-Haul, and I am driving our other vehicle)

I think it is important that we know that when we agree to follow God’s leading on our lives, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be easy or all joyful. In fact, sometimes it means it will be QUITE HARD! Sometimes, it is a struggle; this blog will try to be a more complete picture of the struggle:

We knew that the move to NY would be challenging. Selling our beautiful farm, which we worked hard at to make it exactly what we could have ever wanted and had many wonderful memories at, was much harder than we could have ever imagined. Leaving our church family, which had blessed us in so many ways, tore at our hearts. We were leaving Dustin’s entire family, who lived in NC. We were leaving women, who were so invested in our children that they would come out to our home and read with my children and help me with schooling. We were leaving couples and families who prayed diligently for our family and encourage us daily. We were leaving a fantastic youth minister, who had strong theological lessons and was invested in our youth. We were leaving a music minister, who engaged our family and encouraged them in their pursuit of playing on the worship team. We were leaving amazing Sunday school teachers, who devoted countless hours to preparing lessons each week. We were leaving a fabulous piano teacher, who would let us mow her lawn and clean her house as partial payment for our children’s piano lessons. We were leaving incredibly dedicated moms, who led lessons at our homeschool co-ops. The amazing co-ops and networks of life-long deep friendships we were leaving behind filled us with emptiness as we knew we would never be able to replace; these people had become a part of our family.
(Picture of NC Trillium Cottage Academy Medieval Feast)

Still, we were obedient to the call God had put on our life. He opened doors to this opportunity to move to NY that we knew we were supposed to leave it all behind. We tried to swallow the sadness and find joy and excitement in the newness and adventure we were heading to, but we had no idea how difficult the journey would continue to be.  Still we trusted in the Lord’s leading.
I think sometimes that we go into things partially blinded to the possibilities of tragedy and hardship. We see God open a door or path, and we (after careful prayer and discernment), take the step through that door without knowing what we are getting ourselves into. At times in my life, I have felt that was a type of deception of God to not tell me what I am signing up for (as if I deserved to know the whole plan). Clearly, I do not have any right to know, and I have since realized that God doesn’t reveal the whole plan partially because it is beyond us. We cannot know all that is in store, or we may not do what we need to do for fear of the pain and hurt we see coming; however, He sees beyond just the pain. He sees the whole picture. He knows the beginning from the end.  He knows that sometimes we must endure difficulties in order to arrive in the place He has for us and/or to learn the lesson we must learn. I have heard it compared to cross-stitch. From the bottom-side (which is where we are this side of heaven), it looks like complete rat’s nest of messy strings with no apparent order, but from the top (which is where God is), He is able to see how it is all working together to create a beautiful tapestry. This year has been many knots and tangles in our string, but I trust the Maker, our Creator. I know He is working it all out for the good of those who love Him.

(Driveway to NC Home)
(NC Home)

  (Rainbow over our NC pastures)
Selling our dream house, packing up, and moving seemed to us to be one of the hardest things we had ever done. My father-in-law was very helpful in coming out and helping us pack up and even paint our NC house as we prepared to move north. I can only imagine how emotional that must have been for him to prepare the house of his son’s family to be ready to move 750 miles away. Still, he and my mother-in-law came out and helped prepare the house and property for sale even after we had moved north. My brother and his friend Brian were kind enough to drive to NC to help us load up and drive home with our second load of stuff. Moving a family of 15 people right before Christmas was INSANE! We had a caravan of people and farm animals and moving trucks heading north for a 15 hour drive to arrive to several feet of snow and a shell of a house that still needed a ton of work.
My family in NY had worked endless hours to prepare our new home for our arrival, but we had no idea the extreme mess we were walking in to. I cannot even imagine how we would have ever been able to survive our first year had it not been for all the work they did and continued to do. They helped us redo floors, paint, cut firewood for us to have heat, scrubbed down bathrooms and years’ worth of grease and grime off the cupboards and cabinets. My mom even tarped our front porch to hold out some of the snow and hung some Christmas lights on the front porch to welcome us here. My brother and his friends unloaded some of the furniture into our house, so it wasn’t completely bare when we walked in. Each one of them and their loving service was a blessing to our family.
Every wall and baseboard in the house had to be scrubbed, plastered, sanded, and repainted. The ceiling had to be washed and repainted. We had to sand all the hardwood floors and refinish them because they were completely black. All the carpet in every bedroom had to be ripped up and thrown out because they were so dirty. Then, we tiled all the bedroom floors. (We actually still need to tile the bathroom and back mudroom as they have holes and soft spots in the floor from rot, but we haven’t gotten to do that project yet as we had no idea how much work and expense of supplies we were going to be getting into). We also had to replace every appliance because they didn’t work. We replaced the sink and counter in the kitchen because they pooled water and didn’t drain correctly. The roof needs to be replaced on the house, but we patched it up to get us through another winter. The roof on one of the other buildings also needs to be replaced, as it is leaking, but we haven’t gotten to that yet. The kids were enthusiastic and worked eagerly to make it a home, but they were fighting the depression of missing their friends and trying to stay busy to fill the time.
(Our "new" home in NY)

(Our newly finished wood floors in NY house)

We had to have several loads of fill dropped on the driveway and road down to the lodge, and we had to dig out the ditch to prevent run-off. Thankfully my father’s tractor and my brother’s use of an excavator helped with that! Now, we have purchased our own used Oliver tractor, so we won’t have to borrow my dads all the time. We are thankful that we had his tractor to use for the many projects. I don’t know what we would have done without it.

One of the positive things that has come from this move is that we are closer to my family for the first time in our lives. We are now within 20-30 minutes of my parents, my sister’s family, and my brother’s family. Being closer together, we established weekly pizza nights where we get together, hang out, eat dinner, and play games. When it is cold, we play card games and board games, and when it is nice out, we have a barbeque instead of pizza and play soccer or watch the kids swim in the pond. It was been wonderful to get to see my family every week, and I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to be closer to my younger nephews and watch them growing. Over the summer, we were able to keep my brother’s kids once a week for fun, and they have so much joy and are so happy, the time with them was a blessing.

There is also a lodge on the property, which we had hoped we could rent out as a partial income to help cover NY property and state taxes, but unfortunately that lodge needed a great deal of work too. All the furniture needed to be replaced because it was destroyed. The previous renters uninstalled and sold the pellet stove, took down a 200 foot deck along the building (which we had to find a way to replace as it left a mess of mud and footers), and took all the camp mattresses. Plus, all the appliances needed to be replaced, which was more expenses we hadn’t anticipated. We had to buy tables and chairs for 50 people in order to rent it out as well as replace the hot water heater, fix the plumbing, paint bathrooms and hallways, and replace the exit signs the previous renters also removed. We also decorated it to make it more marketable (though many of the decorations we took from our home as this new house has less wall space). Fortunately, we had the lodge up repaired to rent it out that first spring and summer. We still have work that we want to do with it, but it is much better than it was.

In hindsight, I wish I had taken more before pictures, but it was so depressing to see the mess that I couldn’t bring myself to document it; however, I am posting the few pictures we did take.

The gorgeous barn on the property was completely chuck-full of trash from the previous renters. Thankfully B&B Lumber (which is who we bought the property from) paid for 2 of the dumpsters we filled full of trash and had hauled, but we also had to burn a great deal of it and pay for another dumpster. Honestly, we could probably furnish another entire dumpster worth of trash, but we are having to prioritize projects. Thankfully, the barn is mostly cleared out now, and it really is a lovely barn. We have even repaired and painted some of the walls inside and set up a milk processing room, which is something I had always wanted because it is much easier than doing it in the kitchen.

Then there was the challenge of bringing our beloved milk cow, Josie, with us (along with an angus calf, Chip, who we got from Old River Farm, and about 30 chickens). When we first got here, however, with so much stuff in the barn, there was no place to put any of them. Thankfully, Brandon and his friend, Jeremy, had cleared out a small stall area, and we had several loads of gravel dropped in that as well. We wanted to give the animals a pasture, but the ground was so frozen we couldn’t get any posts into it (we even tried heating the ground up with a blow torch, which was comical but unsuccessful).

Once the spring thaw came, we constructed some smaller fences with electric fencing for the animals to get out and run away with; in fact, one of the pastures was put up with my father-in-law on his visit up from NC. (Thanks Lynn)! We are also excited by the news that the A.I. we had done by a vet was successful, and Josie will be due to calf in June of this year! We are ecstatic about that.

Milking the cow in the frigid temperatures was terrible. She couldn’t come inside the main part of the barn because of the concrete floors being too slippery. The milk machine wouldn’t work right in the extreme cold; plus, we lost power 4 times that first winter. So, out of necessity, we learned how to hand milk. I cannot even express the craziness of trying to milk a cow by hand in temperatures in the single digits, especially when we didn’t even know what we were doing. The milk literally freezes as it hits the pail, and every couple minutes our fingers would be so cold that we would have to stop and put our hands under our jackets to get them back to a temperature where we could move them again. Because we were not avid milkers, we would have several children come out and take turns helping us to get the milk expressed before Josie was too impatient with our inefficient milking efforts. I am happy to say though that since then, several of us have become expert hand milkers! Praise God! 

Also, the boiler system (heat) for the barn didn’t work when we arrived, which made watering the animals and cleaning the milk equipment quite difficult. Thankful to the many people who worked on it, and for Gerry, who finally got it up and working again.

Frigid doesn’t seem to be a strong enough word for how cold it was that first winter. Because we did not have foreknowledge of the struggles of this place, we did not know to turn off the water that went to different faucets on the property, and several times we would lose water pressure in the house, in the coldest part of the winter, having pipes burst and spray cold water at different locations on the property until we could get to a store to buy and install caps for the water (Working with water in freezing temperatures is NOT a fun job). We have since found the location of each of the water shut-offs, so we could turn them off before the freeze. All these things would have been nice to have known ahead of time, but we learned them, painfully, as we went along. Thankful we will not have that struggle this winter!

When the power went out, which it did several times that first winter, that also meant that the water didn’t work (as we are on a well here). So, we would cart pots full of snow in and cook them on the wood-burning stove to use (We are very thankful for that stove. Thanks to B&B Lumber for buying it from the previous renters and to Jeremy for the firewood he cut for us for that first year). We also cooked our meals on the wood-burning stove (Thank you Jesus that we had that stove). We often felt like pioneers of the past with the almost comical obstacles we faced that first year. Sometimes we would laugh as we cried about the challenges we continued to face.

There were fun times in between the struggles. We learned of a local ice skating rink that opened for free-skating, and we picked up used skates at the Good Will. So, skating every week with local homeschoolers became a winter event we looked forward to. Jeanette also got us started at the local YMCA, which was a huge blessing. We went several times a week to the homeschool swim and gym class where we also met many other homeschoolers (and which lead to the co-op we got started in). We were thankful for these classes (even for some of my older children) as they all learned to be confident in the water, which was nice once summer arrived, and we could go swimming in the pond. We enjoyed going as a family to Zumba classes and laughing as we tried to keep up with the dance moves.

We also collected cross-country skis from ebay and my dad’s garage. We ordered ski-boots for the sizes we couldn’t find, and all the kids had their own set of cross-country skis to explore around our trails. Cross-country skiing and perfecting sledding were ways that the kids filled their winter days when it wasn’t too cold to be outside. The kids also made snow forts, snowmen, and had snowball fights galore. We got so much snow this past winter, we didn’t know what to do with it. In fact, my dad and my brother had loaned us a four-wheeler to plow the driveway, which Blake immediately took responsibility for doing; however, with the amount of snow we got, it got too heavy to even push, and there was nowhere left to push it. We had so much snow at one point this past year, we actually climbed up on the roof and jumped off into the banks! Additionally, we were able to have some visitors from NC come up during the snow and also in the summer, which was a nice surprise.

That first winter, I got in a car accident running my sister’s car into a ditch after losing control in the ice. Since then, I completely avoid that specific scary road in the winter. Thankfully, I was fine, and the car wasn’t damaged too bad.

Apparently, the people that lived here before us had had issues with their septic, and thankfully we only had one clog during the winter which backed up into the house. However, as spring and summer arrived, we had to pay a company to come out and empty the septic tank along with all the outhouses on the property that hadn’t been emptied. After that, we still had issues with our septic system, and we have been told it will eventually need to be replaced as it isn’t working right, and it is an old system. In fact, just a month or so ago, we had the whole thing back up into the house again and had to have someone use special equipment to unclog it. It was so vile that we had to leave the house, and I literally threw up as I tried to mop up the sewage in the house.  

We had hoped that we could have the Christian summer camp up and running the first year that we got to NY, which is why we chose to come in the winter. We had hoped that would be enough time to get things up and running, but the more we saw, the more we realized that the first year was not going to be a possibility. However, we trust in God’s timing.
As spring arrived, our spirits were lifted. The weather was beautiful, and the cold snow was replaced with beautiful greenery! Yay for sunshine!

Warmer weather, meant hikes and exploring the woods and streams.

However, as the snow began to melt, it exposed the massive amount of trash that the previous renters had left behind the barn. Mattresses, televisions, tons of glass, metal, smashed microwaves, beer bottles, lightbulbs, and just trash strewn all about. We tried to burn what we could and made our way carefully and painstakingly through the heaps of trash loading it into dumpsters, but picking up the shards of glass seemed like an endless task. I was thankful that God had covered this dump with snow when we first arrived because there was no way we could have handled the emotions and despair that we felt as we tried to clean up this mess at the same time as working on the interior of the house. The removal of all the trash seemed to be an insurmountable task, and we were thankful that we had the house mostly under control before we knew of the mess we had to tackle behind the barn.

Since then, we have removed most of the trash, and B&B Lumber was kind enough to bring out a bulldozer to push the rest of the smaller stuff out of the way, while we had 4 loads of dirt brought in to cover the area we fenced in to make a small corral for our animals.

Part of the deal with buying this property from the lumber company, was that they would be able to log the trees (no less than 14 “ in diameter) until we had fully paid for the mortgage. So, that first spring, they started logging the woods. They also offered to clear pasture area for our horse and cows at no extra cost to us. This was an amazingly generous offer saving us a great deal of money. As they cleared out the trees around the barn and the house, it opened up to let the sun in and seemed to open up the sky to let in light and restore hope. It is coming along. It is starting to look like a home and a farm.  We didn’t have the finances to get all the fencing put up before this winter around this new pasture area, but we are hopeful that we can get it up this spring.

We started the quest to find a church family as soon as we arrived in NY. We reviewed statements of faith and mission statements as well as visited dozens of churches. When we finally settled on a church that was where we thought God wanted us, we went ahead and started getting plugged in. We volunteered and participated in the VBS, we signed up our kids to be on the praise team, and we started getting involved. However, shortly after getting there, the pastor contacted us to let us know that there was a family at the church that was gossiping and spreading rumors about us. We found it odd that we were being contacted if it was someone else that was doing the gossiping, but we met with the pastors and some elders to discuss is. We did not know what we could have done to upset this specific family, but we wrote an apology letter to them and the pastor. The couple refused to respond, and we decided that rather than be a stumbling block for this family, who had been attending there for some time, we would just find another church. However, it was a low blow to be hit in the church family when we were already feeling so vulnerable and lonely. However, we know that all people are sinners, and being a member of a church doesn’t resolve the fact that we all still need a Savior! A short time later, we became members at another local church, and we are thankful for the people we have met there.

Over the summer, we were able to get plugged in to a homeschool co-op that started in fall, which was exciting as it provided opportunities to get to know more homeschooling families. They wanted me to teach science there, which I gladly agreed to. It is mostly just a fun co-op (rather than academic), but most of the kids really enjoy it. They have gotten to take sewing classes, gym classes, choir, and art classes, which they have liked. Plus, they have met some new friends.
During the winter, the kids all helped us transform the house into a home. They learned great skills at flooring, plastering, painting,..etc. Once the weather was nice enough, they continued working outside.

Being unable to get into any of the academic co-ops in the area, I began to pray about starting our own. I tried to reach out to any other local homeschoolers in the area to recreate a NY branch of Trillium Christian Academy Co-op where we use Tapestry of Grace curriculum for history, literature, and writing. We also do a memory program, and in the afternoon, we have a science (using Apologia). All summer, we held meetings, corresponded via email, and wrote out syllabi for all the classes. It seemed like an enormous undertaking, but we prayed that God would bring families together to educate our children as a group using Christian curriculum; and, He did!

We started the year with 11 families and over 40 students. Initially, we hosted the co-op at our camp in multiple buildings we prepared for classes, but as winter started to approach, there was no way the roads would be conducive for families traveling from far. Thankfully, God answered our prayers, and LaFayette Alliance Church accepted our request to host our co-op once a week at their facility, which even has a gymnasium! God is moving the mountains! Our co-op has been a huge blessing. While it has taken a great deal of work, and we have had some growing pains as we started up, we are coming together, and it is beautiful to be a part of. I am thankful for the families involved and the effort they have put into the co-op.

We are finally starting to get caught up on the massive chores and cleaning up after the mess that we walked into. We have met homeschooling families and friends. It is not the same. The relationships are new and delicate, not like tried and true deep friendships that we had in the past, but it is a start. The church has been welcoming and several families have reached out to us, and we are so very grateful to God for the people He has started to bring into our lives. We can NEVER replace our NC friends and family, and our hearts still ache with emptiness for the distance that is between us. However, we are trying to find happiness and contentment in where we are at.

Another thing I am thankful for is the public school system where we live. While NY does have very exhaustive requirements for homeschoolers, the district we live in has been very supportive. They have also come out to test several of my children, who have been struggling in school. These full testing reports that I received have been helpful but also devastating as I have realized that some of my children may never be capable of receiving a high school diploma due to extremely low IQs. I also had several of my children identified as having majorly debilitating learning disabilities, which has helped me to adjust my expectations and my teaching strategies. I must admit, when I first saw the scores, I became extremely discouraged, as if all my efforts to teach them, research for the best curriculums, money spent on programs, co-ops, and curriculum, hours of preparing lessons and activities, hours of tutoring and teaching were just not working.

However, I also received the most encouraging news from one of the psychologists who did the testing, which has been the highlight of my homeschooling experience. He told me that despite how low the IQs were on a couple of my kids (and despite their learning disabilities), they performed much better than expected on the academic portion of the testing. He said that based on their IQ and learning disabilities, he couldn’t believe how well the tested academically (which was almost at an “average” level in some areas). He told me that whatever I was doing at home with them was working, and I had helped them advance to further than their test scores could have hoped for them to get! Alleluia! Thank you, Jesus! I know that it was God’s grace for sure, and I also know that many terrific co-op moms and church ladies have helped with that progress as well! Thank you, God for the encouragement that the testing and psychologist brought my weary heart.

Without giving details, there was a tragic event that happened in our family this past year, which resulted in trauma and hurt as well as one of my children being arrested and charged with a crime. That same child also spent time in a psychiatric hospital, and we have had to deal with working through all of that. He/she has since been put on medication, which has also helped. God seems to have given this child remorse, and he/she has since been trying to make steps in the right direction. Prayers for growth, healing, forgiveness, safety, wisdom, and deliverance.

Another of my children, who had always struggled with controlling his/her emotions, decided he/she no longer wanted to go to school or live with us. He/she moved out into a small apartment in search of a job vowing he/she didn’t want to be a part of our family anymore. The hurt and agony this caused cannot properly be articulated in words, so I will not even attempt to do so. Thankfully, after a painfully long month, he/she ran out of money and chose to apologize and asked to come home. He/she also agreed to try depression medication and finish his/her high school requirements. Praise God. Prayers for this child as well, and for wisdom for us to know what to do to best help him/her.

Additionally, we have decided to send three of our children to public school mid-year this year, which has been a difficult decision. We are thankful that our public school is a solid school where we feel confident in their academic instruction. It has been a difficult decision, as we obviously have wanted to have all our children at home together to enjoy learning together, it has also become obvious that some of these children will do better apart from me for their instruction. They have a difficult time doing the right thing when I am busy with a phone call or helping another student. They provoke and are disruptive when not being constantly supervised, which does not work in a homeschool setting with multiple aged students. They have been attending for about a month now seem to be doing well except for minor difficulties. My heart still aches for the death of the dream I had of schooling all of my children together. But, I know that each child is different, and I have had to lay my dreams on the altar and pray for God’s plan because despite my intentions, He knows what my children need more than I.

This past year, we also had several of our students get involved with a Christian homeschooling soccer program called the Syracuse Eagles. The families we met there were such a blessing to our family, and we enjoyed a wonderful soccer season for several of the kids.

We have also located a piano teacher that lives just a couple miles up the road from us, who is very well-educated and has a great deal of experience in teaching. She now comes to our house once a week to teach lessons to the kids here while we homeschool. This is extremely convenient and a wonderful blessing. In fact, we have started some of our younger children in taking lessons as some of our older ones have decided they are done.

As the weather warmed up, our family thoroughly enjoyed our time outside. The weather here in the late spring and summer was absolutely gorgeous. We don’t have AC here, but we really only longed for it for a couple days of the whole summer as the breeze at the top of the mountain, and the refreshing water of the pond to swim in was perfect. The kids spent much of the summer on the pond. Whether they were fishing, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, or paddle-boarding, the time in the water was sweet! We were again thankful for those YMCA swim lessons we had had.

There is a beautiful stream and waterfalls on the property, which we have enjoyed being able to walk as a family and with close friends. They really are quite spectacular. Unfortunately, in years past, there have been 6 or 7 people who have died at one of the waterfalls, which is just on the other side of our property. Because of this, we have had a difficult time finding insurance that will cover this property. We have closed off all stream hikes, unless someone makes prior reservations with us and brings along a certified life guard (we had our son get his certification for that purpose). Even with that, the guided tour avoids this dangerous waterfall. However, there are still many trespassers that come onto the property without authorization, and we have been working with the local police department to apprehend trespassers. We have also hung up many “No Trespassing” signs.  As the weather warmed, many people continued to show up to hike at our new home, as it was previously an open-to-the-public hiking camp. We have had to turn away many hikers, as we do not want random people hiking on the property unattended. It is not worth the liability, and many people do not respect signs and safety precautions, which puts them and our property at risk. Therefore, we do not have the property open for drop-in hikers. We have been met with many complaints, criticism, and attitudes from people upset that we don’t allow public hiking (despite the signs and information on our website that tells them we don’t allow hiking).

The first autumn in NY was amazingly beautiful. The fall colors were vibrant and the weather during the fall was pleasant. Our family enjoyed hiking the trails as a family and with friends.

Since moving here last year, we have been able to take several field trips. We went to the New York State Fair. We visited a restored and working saw mill, saw the Erie Canal, went to a reenactment at Fort Niagara, and visited Fort Stanwick for their homeschool day. We also took a trip to Albany to visit some of the museums there. We also made two trips to Niagara Falls, and we watched the Broadway musical of Disney’s Lion King at the Landmark Theater. We definitely have tried to take advantage of some of the fun things offered in the area.

Unfortunately, we are still not at a point where we can open for a Christian summer camp. We have had too many expenses, and we still have so much work to do to prepare. Plus, our state taxes and property taxes this year were more than we had expected, but we know that it will all work out. We are hoping to expand our rentals of the Moosewood Lodge in this upcoming year.
Here are some pictures from Moosewood now.

We are also hoping to get some trails cleared and marked off this spring to be able to offer people to utilize by reservations and with Moosewood rentals. We are still working with Team Adventure for with their ropes courses, and we hope to expand with that as well. 

We do have Moosewood lodge and pavilion we are able to rent out, we have Team Adventure Ropes Course (which is AWESOME), and reservation stream hikes for groups of 25 and smaller.

Moosewood renters also have the privilege of hiking to the overlook, and additional trails once we get them opened up and marked. This past year, we had several fantastic groups rent Moosewood, and we are hoping to have Moosewood opened for more retreats and youth events this coming spring and summer. It is our vision to also get the Christian day camp started in the next year or two, Lord willing.

We are thankful for the financial support and many prayers from friends and family. We could not do what we are doing without you! Please continue to pray for our family. Specifically, please pray for peace and joy in the difficulties and struggles. Please pray for wisdom in how to best move forward with our ministries and in schooling and advising our children. Please pray for God’s favor and for His will to be done, that He would get all the glory for the work done at our camp, and that His kingdom would be furthered through our ministries and efforts here at Mercy Mountain. Please pray for healing for those in our family who have endured hardships, and for forgiveness to be abundant. Please pray that grace and mercy would abound, and that we would be examples of His light.
(View of the barn from the house with a beautiful rainbow)

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